In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, the Indian Railways had temporarily removed window curtains and had also advised passengers to bring their own blankets. However, the temporary decision has been made permanent now, as the Railways has now decided to get roller blinds for all its air-conditioned cars, instead of curtains.
The curtains for berths had been advised to be removed in 2018 by an inquiry committee recommendation. The committee said that the curtains help in spreading fires in coaches. However, the curtains on windows remained useful in hot and sunny climate, to protect passengers from the sun and heat.
After many experiments, Indian Railway has finally decided to install Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal (PDLC) sheets in a coach of Howrah-New Delhi AC Special train. In this, a passenger will be able to make the window glass from transparent to opaque, with the press of a switch.
The Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal (PDLC) installation was effective but it would have been expensive to implement on a mass scale on all the trains. In the end, authorities decided to use inexpensive yet effective roller blinds in place of window curtains in all the Air-Conditioned coaches from Thursday (April 1).
Meanwhile, the Railways has also decided to disallow passengers from using mobile charging stations onboard trains between 11 pm and 5 am as a precautionary measure against spread of fire.
This comes after recent incidents of fire reported in some trains. Many incidents of minor fires, reported onboard long-distance trains, were caused due to overcharging of electronic devices.
The Railways has also announced a slew of initiatives against smoking and carrying inflammable items, which were apparently also the cause behind some of the recent fires onboard trains.